Books

Life lessons in space

Time for a middle grade book review … and how could I not be drawn to this absolutely stunning cover? I’d put the poster up in my room any day!

Galaxygirl Cover_BevSmith_#Galaxygirl_Kindle

Voluntary alien abduction is an extreme running away from home scenario. It’s written as a series of emails, so gives a narrow first person perspective – this has pros and cons as I actually had sympathy for the single mum. Esme veers between sulky teenager, well-meaning friend, and naive child – I won’t say she reminds me of any of my nieces! I’d have liked more insights into the problems at home to support her decision to leave, but once she starts school in Kratos the story kicks into gear and from then on I raced through it.

Several themes are raised in the story. Family and friendship, regardless of background,  is central to the story. Animal rights are also cleverly explored. Serious environmental threads on global warming/ cooling and mining/ diminishing natural resources were hinted at and I really hoped they were going to be developed further.

Overall, it’s a fun read for the younger end of middle grade (7-9) raising some good topics for further discussion in an accessible way.

Giveaway – Win 2 x #galaxygirl Mugs and a signed copy of #galaxygirl (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

I really want these mugs!

Galaxygirl Giveaway Prize

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494167/?

Blurb

You hate school. Your family is beyond annoying. Your only friend comes from a different planet, and she’s about to leave.

What’s a girl to do?

Fed up with life on Earth, Esme stows away on the spaceship taking Stella back to Planet Kratos.

So begins Esme’s adventure into a world beyond the stars. A world of strange creatures, thrilling journeys, heroic rescues and instant fame.

Oh, and school. Lots of school.

Along the way she discovers that friends may be greener on the other side, but they still can’t be trusted.

Millions and billions of light years away from Earth, she sets in motion a plan to escape. Unfortunately for her, they aren’t about to let their prize exhibit leave anytime soon…

 

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/galaxygirl-Bev-Smith/dp/1999311507

US – https://www.amazon.com/galaxygirl-Bev-Smith/dp/1999311507


Author Bio

Galaxygirl Author Pic

Bev Smith has been a secondary school teacher, saleswoman, waitress, wages clerk, youth worker and holiday park entertainments manager. She has scuba dived the Barrier Reef, lived in a village in Namibia, worked for a charity in Thailand, flown over Victoria Falls and paddled in the sea at Bournemouth.

Having single-parented her three daughters, she’s been ferociously playing catch up with this writing lark.  She recently completed a Masters in Writing for Children at Winchester University. #galaxygirl is her debut middle-grade book.

Social Media Links

https://twitter.com/BevSmith612

https://www.facebook.com/bevbooks/

Books, featured

Exclusive! Check out this unseen sketch from the new Untamed book …

So we’re almost at the end of the blog tour for the launch of the fourth book in the Untamed series, Destroyed, and I have a real treat for you. Having illustrated Eternal Seas myself, I’m always interested in how the author imagined their characters so I am HUGELY excited to be able to share this exclusive character drawing from Madeline Dyer of Seven (the main character) and her dog …

 

 

Wait for it …

 

 

 

Keep scrolling …

 

 

 

 

OK I can’t wait any longer! Here you go …

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How cute is that dog with his wonky ears?

 

Blurb

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Seven Sarr, the most powerful human in the world, is alive–and she’s on the run from her enemy. With the Dream Land gone, the Gods and Goddesses dead, and the Untamed’s number of Seers at a record low, Seven knows she must attempt to control the Lost Souls–including the most volatile and dangerous spirits–if her people are to have a chance at beating the Enhanced Ones once and for all. But when the Enhanced impose a new threat and Corin’s life is at stake, Seven must make her hardest choice: save the man she loves and let her people perish, or allow Corin’s death so the Untamed can survive.

Locked into a tight countdown to her own demise and solitary entrapment within a torturous realm, Seven must make her decision quickly. Her Seer powers are the strongest, and her death will end the War of Humanity once and for all.

When the new morning dawns, the world as she knew it will be gone. What–and who–will be left behind is up to Seven. Will her love shape the future of the world?

Here is the Amazon link for the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Destroyed-Untamed-Book-Madeline-Dyer-ebook/dp/B07GQTFYV7/

Author Bio

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Madeline Dyer lives on a farm in the southwest of England, where she hangs out with her Shetland ponies and writes young adult books—sometimes, at the same time. She holds a BA Honors degree in English from the University of Exeter, and several presses have published her fiction. Madeline has a strong love for anything dystopian, ghostly, or paranormal, and she can frequently be found exploring wild places. At least one notebook is known to follow her wherever she goes.

 

Books, Family - Adventure, featured

How to boost your child’s emotional intelligence with journalling

Journalling can be an effective tool for exploring your emotions – it can help you put things in perspective, understand and process your feelings, and focus on positives. At this time of year, the stationery shops are overflowing with gorgeous diaries. I can’t resist a fresh notebook for a fresh new year, even if I mainly use it to make lists.

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But keeping a diary doesn’t appeal to every child, so prompts are a really useful tool. I was shown The Happy Self Journal at an event and totally fell in love with it. It’s beautifully packaged, comes with some free stickers (who doesn’t love a sticker!), and it’s a fab bright yellow colour with a good strong cover. Those aren’t the important points though …

  • Firstly, it’s gender neutral. If we’re avoiding stereotyping girls and boys emotions, thats obviously important.
  • Secondly, you don’t have to work through it chronologically like a diary. It’s like a colouring book – flick through and the child can pick whatever activity that appeals. I guess if you wanted them to explore a particular theme, you could point out a few pages.
  • Thirdly, of course, it’s not overwhelming in quantity – just a few sentences is all that it takes so its also good for reluctant writers.

 

It says its aimed at 6-12 year olds, but I’d probably narrow that to a core of 7-10 year olds. If you’d like to check it out, here’s the link https://happyselfjournal.com

I’m thrilled to have a copy to giveaway – just comment and share this post on Twitter tagging @lexi_rees and @HappySelf_. Competition is only open in the UK. Closing date 30 November 2018.

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Books, Family - Adventure, featured

Isolation Junction: a harrowing tale of abuse and survival

I normally blog about kids books and family activities, but domestic abuse is a topic that I feel I need to cover as it’s sadly part of the family reality for too many people. The author, Jennifer Gilmour, is very active in campaigning against domestic abuse. If you’ve been affected or would like to get involved, you can find her through the hashtag #isolationjunction.

block the road

Although fictionalised, Isolation Junction is a very personal story and the first edition was full of raw emotion. This is the only time I’ve ever sought out a second edition of a book to read, but the topic is so important I wanted to see what had changed. This updated edition has been smoothed out and polished but, despite having read it before, it hasn’t lost its power and still made me cry.

The main changes are that it’s now chronological and all in third person, so it’s much easier to follow. It also fills in several gaps and is a stronger narrative as a result. It should be compulsory reading.

Well done to both the author and editor (the fabulous Emma Mitchell from Creating Perfection, who also edited Eternal Seas for me). I gave the first edition a 5* rating so this has to be a 6*.

Synopsis:

IJ - NEW COVER Isolation Junction

Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband. While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘Isolation Junction’.

 She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house. But through this, she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business. 

It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.

After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1,000 reasons she can’t will she be able to do it? Will Tim help her? And will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves? Can Rose break free from this spiralling life she so desperately wants to change?

Based on true events.

 

About the author:

 IJ - Jennifer Gilmour

Born in the North East, Jennifer is a young, married mum with three children.  In addition to being an author, she is an entrepreneur, running a family business from her home-base. Her blog posts have a large readership of other young mums in business.

From an early age, Jennifer has had a passion for writing and started gathering ideas and plot lines from her teenage years.  A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, she has drawn on her personal experiences to write this first novel. It details the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again.  

Links:

Website; www.jennifergilmour.com

Facebook; www.facebook.com/isolationjunctionbook 

Twitter; www.twitter.com/JenLGilmour 

Instagram; https://www.instagram.com/authorjennifergilmour/

 

Books, featured

A festive must-read for 2018

Is it allowed to post a Christmas read before you do a Halloween post? I love a festive read and, although I’m still in full-on Spooky mode, the blurb for No One Cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley was irresistible. I simply couldn’t miss out on the blog tour. So if you’ll forgive me, here we go …

Firstly, the “magical Christmas” wasn’t too saccharine with the intriguing “what went wrong that Christmas when Sarah was a child” and the bah-humbug holiday resort. In a way, it was tinged with an awareness of what can be a difficult time for many people/ families, although I’m not sure this was a conscious decision from the author or just a result of the plot.

The characters are warm and engaging. I haven’t read any other books by the author so although I gather some of them are in other books, it certainly doesn’t impact on this as a stand-alone book.

It made me laugh out loud (during my son’s music lesson, much to his embarrassment). And the guy from The Mentalist (even if we all have to google his name) … well … yes!

It’s a quick read, partly because it’s light, but mostly because I couldn’t put it down. Yup, this is a 1am-prop-your-eyes-open-with-matchsticks book.

Enjoy!

BLURB: No One Cancels Christmas

It’s the most magical time of the year, and for travel agent Sarah it’s also the busiest! But this year one man threatens to ruin Christmas for Sarah’s customers – Mr Grinch, Will Armstrong.

The Shooting Star Mountain resort is a magical place, and Sarah has fond memories of Christmas here as a little girl – visits to Father Christmas, husky rides in the snow and hot chocolate by a roaring fire. But as the resorts new owner, Will refuses to play snowball or to deck the halls with anything remotely resembling tinsel!

With customers complaining their Christmas is ruined, Sarah decides it’s up to her to convince Scroogey Will just how magical Christmas can be….

But getting Will into the Christmas spirit is hopeless – he is Bah Humbug personified! But as Sarah gets to know him better, she realises that underneath all the gloom is a man struggling with a pain of his own.

With the big day approaching, Sarah realises that the magic and sparkle can wait. This year, she’s going to spend Christmas day with someone special her very own Mr Scrooge…

 

About the Author

ZaraStoneley authorpic

Born in a small village in Staffordshire, I wanted to be a female James Herriot, a spy, or an author when I grew up. After many years, and many different jobs, my dream of writing a bestseller came true.

I write about friendship, dreams, love, and happy ever afters, and hope that my tales make you cry a little, laugh a lot, and occasionally say ‘ahhh’.

I now live in a Cheshire village with my family, a lively cockapoo called Harry, and a very bossy (and slightly evil) cat called Saffron.

Where you can find her-

Website: http://www.zarastoneley.com
Twitter: @ZaraStoneley
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ZaraStoneley

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zarastoneley/

 

Purchase Links

Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/No-One-Cancels-Christmas-romantic-ebook/dp/B07CWTVJGD

Amazon UShttps://www.amazon.com/no-one-cancels-christmas-romantic-ebook/dp/B07CWTVJGD

 

As for my Halloween post … you’ll have to wait.